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Michael Heseltine Watt ONZM (born 16 December 1940) is a New Zealand entrepreneur, philanthropist, and investor.[1] He is one of five New Zealanders who featured in the Sunday Times Rich List 2009.[2] He was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the community in the 2005 New Year Honours.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, he was expelled from Christs College, Christchurch, in 1955, and spend the next 10 years working in various blue collar industries (i.e. oil drilling, construction, rigging, etc...) around the world, as well as numerous hotels and jazz clubs in the United States.

Oil IndustryEdit

In the 1960s Watt worked as an explosives expert for oil exploration crews in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central America. In the late 1960s / early 1970s he worked for the National Supply Company oil field division of Armco Steel, out of Houston, TX, and Louisiana, on the early development of sub-sea wellheads and blow out preventers. During this period he became a partner of Drexel Oil Services in Aberdeen, Scotland. After a project with the Israeli Government off the Sinai Peninsula, Watt sold out of all his oil interests in 1976.


While working with Capital Sports New York, he formed CSI in London and quickly saw an opportunity where sports bodies worldwide were not exploiting their international television rights intelligently, and in a pioneering move soon represented all soccer bodies in UK/Europe, as well as all international rugby and cricket federations. CSI's largest publicised contract was a deal with NewsCorp in the lead up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, which lead to the professionalism of international Rugby Union, particularly in the southern hemisphere. Worth approx. $950m, this was largest sports broadcasting contract in history at the time. CSI represented all cricket and rugby federations, and most soccer federations, for 15 years. Their work is largely credited with shaping the current professionalism of most major sporting industries.

CSI was sold to the Interpublic Group in 2001.


Watt produced numerous albums since the 1990s, most notably Vince Mendoza's Grammy nominated Epiphany in 1999, which is considered a classic by the jazz music industry[by whom?].

In 2009 Watt joined music mogul Korda Marshall in relaunching the Infectious Music record label (formerly known as Infectious Records). The label's most notable signing was alt-J, who won the 2012 British Barclaycard Mercury Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave, which reached Platinum certification in the UK. Their other signings include General Fiasco, Local Natives, Cloud Control, Drenge, Superfood, RY X, The Acid, These New Puritans, and Vance Joy. Infectious Music was acquired by BMG Rights Management in September 2014.

Watt is also the owner of the legendary Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho, London, with business partner Sally Greene OBE.[4]


Watt has had an extensive history in the theatre industry, and is the only New Zealander to receive a Tony Award for his production of Annie Get Your Gun.[5]

His current theatre production credits include:

His previous notable theatre production credits include:

One of the Durham Miners' Associations' banners which features Anthony Wedgwood Benn, as well as Michael Watt.


Watt has dedicated much of his later life to philanthropic endeavours around the globe.

His earlier efforts include sponsoring the Durham Miners Gala when it was on the brink of collapse in the late 1990s. His UK domestic work also includes supporting the Easington Colliery Band, as well as many other music based non-profits including The Sixteen, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and across the Atlantic the Jazz Foundation of America. By forming the Ronnie Scott's Charitable Foundation in 2015 he is continuing to support major musical charities across the UK and provide free instruments to disadvantaged youths.

His efforts expanded to internationally to include numerous projects in Mozambique, such as agricultural and sustainability developments in the northern village of Chupanga, a school for the blind in Beira as well as the purchase and conversion of a disused prison on the outskirts of Beira into a women's safe space. He also funded with Concern Worldwide the development of another safe space for women and children in Bangladesh, as well as a state of the art paediatric dental clinic in a refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. In Cuba he has developed schools and community projects, as well as providing Cuban hospitals with much needed supplies.

His love of sports has seen him develop cricket facilities in townships of South Africa, while back in his native New Zealand he funded the development of the Hadlee Watt Academy and the Bert Sutcliffe Oval at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In recent years his focus has shifted towards the refugee crises in the Middle East and Africa, in particular he has supported projects by Concern Worldwide to: deliver emergency aid kits to thousands of internally displaced person in Northern Syria, provide aid to Syrian refugees in Northern Lebanon, and help Sierra Leone recover after the Ebola crisis. He is also the primary donor for Salam LADC, a grassroots NGO that provides aid to the approx. 500,000 Syrian and Palestinian refugees in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.


  1. ^ Bills, Peter (25 April 2012). "Peter Bills: Soaring success built on humble beginnings". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  2. ^ Hall, Mitchell (29 April 2009). "New Zealanders fall up the UK rich list". National Business Review. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  3. ^ "New Year Honours List 2005". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2004. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Meet The Team - About Ronnie Scott's - Ronnie Scott's". Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c League, The Broadway. "Michael Watt | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b "MICHAEL WATT - Jersey Boys on Tour". Jersey Boys on Tour. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  7. ^ Benedict, David (10 December 2012). "Review: 'The Bodyguard'". Variety. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Matilda to open in Melbourne | Matilda The Musical London". Matilda The Musical London. 12 October 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  9. ^ "PRESS RELEASE". Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  10. ^, Dewynters Ltd |. "Gypsy The Musical". Gypsy The Musical. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)